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An alternative to private cars: French SMEs rise to the SNCF challenge

23 July 2012 - Not to be outdone by the publicly owned monolith that is SNCF, a group of SMEs have come together to offer long distance coach lines in France. The group will operate under the name ‘Starshipper’ and run services on the Lyon-Chambéry-Turin route, demonstrating further growth in the newly opened market.


Starshipper is looking to establish a network of independent bus operators comprising 200 SMEs from across France. The idea is simple: provide an alternative to private cars, by offering interregional connections, close to Europe or France, with a journey time less than or equal to 5 hours, city centre to city centre. Lines will be operated by new 13 metre-long coaches with TGV standards of comfort - 49 seats with ample leg room, free Wi-Fi, multiple 220v outlets while offering snacks and newspapers on board. The grouping expects to have 12 services operating by the end of next year.

Eurolines, the private industry heavyweight with 3.5 million passengers to 600 destinations in France and Europe, is observing this new completion carefully."We are convinced that bus transportation will grow nationally and internationally, said Nicolas Boutaud, Sales and Marketing Director of Eurolines in France. This is an economical mode of transport, which does not require a heavy investment in infrastructure. A bus has 50 seats and can stop in town centres. Today many French people do not even consider using coach. We hope to change this attitude."


The goal of this new collaboration is to provide significant cash savings and high quality on board facilities that will attract new customers out of their cars.  "The economic situation will certainly change the value that customers attach to travel time," says Eric Ritter, general secretary of the National Federation of passenger FNTV .


Read more about long distance coaches in France (in French)


Learn more about the work of French Smart Move partner FNTV


Watch former French Transport Minister, Theirry Mariani, on long distance coach travel

Direct link to the video

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